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Numero Pseudo-Apologizes for “African Queen” Editorial

This morning, The Huffington Post reached out to Numero for comment about the controversial editorial called "African Queen" which featured, in the fashion magazine's very own words, "the American [read: white] model Ondria Hardin posing as an 'African queen,' her skin painted in black."

Here's the statement Numero sent back, in full:

"Some people have declared that they have been offended by the publication in Numéro magazine n°141 of March 2013, of an editorial realized by the photographer Sebastian Kim called 'African Queen', featuring the American model Ondria Hardin posing as an 'African queen,' her skin painted in black.

The artistic statement of the photographer Sebastian Kim, author of this editorial, is in line with his previous photographic creations, which insist on the melting pot and the mix of cultures, the exact opposite of any skin color based discrimination. Numéro has always supported the artistic freedom of the talented photographers who work with the magazine to illustrate its pages, and has not took part in the creation process of this editorial.

For its part, Numéro Magazine, which has the utmost respect for this photographer’s creative work, firmly excludes that the latest may have had, at any moment, the intention to hurt readers’ sensitivity, whatever their origin.

Numéro Magazine considers that it has regularly demonstrated its deep attachment to the promotion of different skin-colored models. For instance, the next issue of Numéro for Man on sale on 15th march has the black model Fernando Cabral on the cover page, and the current Russian edition’s cover of our magazine features the black model Naomi Campbell on its cover. This demonstrates the completely inappropriate nature of the accusations made against our magazine, deeply committed to the respect for differences, tolerance and more generally to non-discrimination.

Considering the turmoil caused by this publication, the Management of Numéro Magazine would like to apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this editorial."

Photographer Sebastian Kim sent in his own apology:

"I would like to apologize for any misunderstanding around my recent photos for Numero France. It was never my intention (nor Numero’s) to portray a black woman in this story. Our idea and concept for this fashion shoot was based on 60s characters of Talitha Getty, Verushka and Marissa Berenson with middle eastern and Moroccan fashion inspiration. We at no point attempted to portray an African women [sic] by painting her skin black. We wanted a tanned and golden skin to be showcased as part of the beauty aesthetic of this shoot.

It saddens me that people would interpret this as a mockery of race. I believe that the very unfortunate title 'African Queen' (which I was not aware of prior to publication) did a lot to further people’s misconceptions about these images. It was certainly never my intention to mock or offend anyone and I wholeheartedly apologize to anyone who was offended.

Sincerely,

Sebastian Kim"

The two statements above are a study in contrasts. Kim's short and direct response articulates his original concept and makes a convincing case that the controversy was the result of a misunderstanding. His apology seems sincere, and I can see how he envisioned the editorial as a story about a Maria Berenson or Talitha Getty-type glamour girl. And yes: like him, I believe that it didn't read that way because of how it was framed by the publication. 

Numero's defensive, drawn-out comment is less sympathetic: If Kim's original concept was for the most part inoffensive, the glossy's packaging of the editorial is another story. Numero not only ran the feature under the title "African Queen," the publication also truly believed that the pictures showed a white girl with her skin painted black posing as an 'African queen,' and didn't think that was a problem. I understand that in France, sensitivity to questions of racial justice might not be as sophisticated as what we're used to in the U.S., but as HuffPo pointed out, Numero's made this mistake before: in 2010, the French publication ran an editorial set in something resembling a savanna, featuring an "overbronzed" Constance Jablonski styled with an Afro, posing with a black baby. 

Despite its willingness to, as Numero points out in its statement above, hire some black models sometimes (the references to its Fernando Cabral and Naomi Campbell covers are the magazine equivalent of being like, "I'm not racist — I have black friends!"), the publication clearly has a race problem. It's incredible that, thinking he'd deliberately styled Hardin in blackface, no one at Numero reached out to Kim to at least be like, "Hey, some people might find this offensive and that's totally fine with us (we're all about making fashion statements with blackface!), but just checking in — That's what you're going for, right?" Still more remarkable: after seeing how people responded to the editorial, Numero did what looks like zero soul-searching, releasing a statement which reads like they think we're the ones that should be apologizing for being offended in the first place.

Images via TFS Forums

PreviouslyNumero's Racist "African Queen" Editorial Stars White Model Ondria Hardin in Blackface

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Izzy Camilleri MIZ Opening Toronto Fashion Week With a Collection for Baby Boomers

Izzy Camilleri, one of Canada's top fashion designers, creative directors and pioneers, will open World Mastercard Fashion Week with a runway show featuring her brand new line, MIZ by Izzy Camilleri, on March 18. I call this fabulous woman a pioneer because she's renowned for being the creator and founder of IZ Adaptive Clothing, a clothing store providing adaptive apparel for the physically disabled, on which she collaborated with fashion journalist Adrian Mainella.

For her next trick, Izzy is launching the MIZ Fall/Winter 2013 collection, a ready-to-wear line designed for the stylish, sophisticated and mature woman; the confident woman who doesn't want to look like who she was, but who wants to look like the woman she is. Sexy, yet comfortable, it will be comprised of sleek separates including jackets, dresses, blouses, leggings and skirts using materials like jersey, stretch wool twill and faux leather in rich blacks, greys and browns with strong patterns like houndstooth and animal-print. 

“I created the MIZ collection because I feel there is a void in truly fashionable apparel that is made specifically for boomer-aged women,” said Camilleri. “Being 50 or 60 isn't the same as it was 40 years ago; these women are sexy, beautiful and stylish – they don’t try to look 25. They are happy and confident so I designed a line with these women in mind with pieces that are really well-made and affordable.” 

The breadth of Izzy's portfolio is astounding having, not only dressed wheelchair users and now stylish baby boomers, but also a range of A-list celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Mila Kunis and Kelly Clarkson. Her designs have further been featured in television and film, including the Izzy Camilleri red fur coat worn by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.

Izzy hasn't shown at Toronto since her IZMA Fall 2011 collection, a collaborative fur line she also designed with Adrian Mainella, almost two years ago. I'm sure many of you Izzy passionistas will be excited to see this new MIZ line, images of which will be available after the show, and the fruit of which will be available for purchase online in August. And if you ever happen to be strolling along Toronto's Dundas Street West (2995B to be exact), I highly recommend checking out her innovative IZ Adaptive Clothing showroom, which offers so much more than the small selection of clothing I'm including below.

Images via IZ Adaptive and Chris Chapman

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David Bowie’s New Music Video Stars Tilda Swinton, Saskia, Andrej

Screenshot via Cucharasonica

This morning David Bowie released the video for "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)," a single off his new album The Next Day, and 1) it stars all your favorite people — specifically Tilda Swinton, Andrej Pejic and Saskia De Brauw and 2) it's fantastic, a reminder of how awesome it is that we live in a world where people make stuff. 

Directed by Floria Sigismondi, shot by Jeff Cronenweth, embedded below:

 

 

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I Bet You’ll Like Derek Lam’s Kohl’s Collection

Sometimes well-known high-end designers do this thing called a "capsule collection" of special, limited-edition pieces for a mass retailer, commonly priced far below their main label. The phenomenon has taken off in the past few years, pioneered by companies like Target and H&M.

I try to avoid paying attention to designer collaborations, because there's a new one being announced like, every second, and many of these lower-priced lines suffer from serious quality control issues made worse by the overblown hype. But I have it on good authority that Derek Lam's collection for Kohl's does the mass retailer collab thing right: items are unlined but made with "nice silky/rayon material."

Inspired by Rio de Janeiro, these pieces are versatile, original and stylish. I can see women of different body types, ages and aesthetic points of view wearing Lam's Kohl's collection and looking good. Also there's a jumpsuit which I could spend an entire season living in. 

The price point here is higher than what you might expect from the department store, with pieces retailing from $36 – $88. The collection will be available at Kohl's and on Kohls.com in April. 

Images vai Kohl's

 

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Numero’s Racist “African Queen” Editorial Stars White Model Ondria Hardin in Blackface [UPDATE]

Well this is just stupidly racist: Numero cast 16-year-old white model Ondria Hardin in an editorial called "African Queen" and um, "styled" her in blackface for the shoot. (Originally spotted by Foudre.)

This, of course, would have been a nice opportunity to hire a black model, as there aren't many jobs available for non-white models (as Jezebel pointed out, 82 percent of the models at New York Fashion Week this season were white) and some might argue (I would argue) that the lack of racial diversity in the fashion industry promotes a standard of beauty which verges on (slash is) white supremacist. 

But no. It's better to hire a white model and have her wearing blackface. And then have her pose in an editorial which fetishizes and objectifies the cultural heritage of the models you didn't hire. 

Controversy has dogged Hardin since the beginning of her career: At 14, the young model was the face of Prada and included Ford Models' show package. Last year, the 15-year-old walked for Marc Jacobs and was featured in Chanel's Spring 2013 campaign, violating an industry-wide effort to improve working conditions for models by casting only over-16 girls. “She doesn’t look 15. She looks 18 or 19,” Karl Lagerfeld said (infuriatingly), failing to explain why he didn't just hire an 18-year-old instead. 

It's only a matter of time before someone puts Hardin in a padded bodysuit and casts her in a plus-size ad. 

[UpdateNumero Pseudo-Apologizes for "African Queen" Editorial]

 

Images via TFS Forums

Related

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Zooey Deschanel Cut Her Signature Hair, Seems Sad [UPDATE: Maybe Not]

Who was that person walking around in Zooey Deschanel's body last night at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party? There's good reason to suspect that the New Girl actress has been posessed by someone who hates bangs and signature shoulder-length hair, because the human formerly known as Zooey Deschanel looks so sad to have bobbed hair and be bangs-less. This is going to have huge implications for the world of bangs.

Image via WENN

[UPDATE: Zooey Deschanel appeared on Conan last night with her hair looking normal: long, voluminous, be-banged. Something's not right, and we believe that something is either an evil twin, a Cylon clone or a faux bob. A faux bob! There's no way. Only if Zooey's favorite beauty product is called "magic."] 

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